Pictured: People bodyboarding and having fun at YMCA Phillip Island Coastal Discovery Camp.
It’s no secret that exercising comes with a lot of physical benefits. But did you know physical exercise isn’t just good for our bodies, but can also improve our mental health and wellbeing?
Studies have shown that exercising on a regular basis can help you sleep better, treat mild to moderate depression, lower your stress levels and improve self-esteem.
According to the Department of Health, the recommended amount of exercise for adults is between 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. But that doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or pump weights at the gym, you can incorporate 30 minutes of exercise such as swimming or dancing into your daily routine!
Exercise and sleep
People who exercise generally fall asleep quicker, sleep better and feel less tired during the day. Single session exercises that are of moderate intensity, such as walking, have been proven to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and increases the length of sleep.
Exercise and depression
Research shows that exercise can prevent depression from emerging in the first place, and physically active people are 15 per cent less likely to develop depression.
Research also suggests that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression. A minimum of 30 minutes a day may increase serotonin levels in the brain, an important chemical that regulates mood, appetite, sleep and other functions.
Exercise and stress
Symptoms of stress may vary from person to person. However, common symptoms include heavy breathing, headaches and migraines, tense muscles and an increased risk of infections and inflammatory conditions, as the immune system is weakened. Exercising is an effective way to relieve tension in the body and relax the muscles. Experts recommend aerobic exercise or mind/body types of exercise, such as yoga or tai chi, to combat stress.
Exercise and self-esteem
There is a strong link between physical exercise and positive self-esteem. Various studies have found that people who exercise regularly over a long period of time show a higher level of confidence and feel positively about their physical abilities and appearance.
When developing your long-term exercise plan, it is important to find a balance between the goals you want to achieve and being realistic about the amount of energy and time you have. Tracking your progress and celebrating your accomplishments will also help you stick to your plan.